Saturday, October 31, 2015

On the Road to Narawntapu - Yorktown


Symbol of hopes lost - here was to have been the capital of Northern Tasmania

I had my lunch at Yorktown where the B 741 turns off to go to the park. No town exits there now, just a pleasant picnic area and a historic walk, but it was the first settlement in Northern Tasmania and was intended to be the capital.
As rivalry between the French and the English intensified and Frenchman Charles Baudin's ships came passing by in the early 1800's, Lord Hobart instructed Lt. Governor King to immediately secure Bass Strait and Northern Tasmania by establishing a settlement there. In 1804 he sent Colonel William Paterson to do the job along with three ships, soldiers and convicts. The first ship, the Buffalo, foundered, losing all the cattle.  
Availability of water was its main attraction and the now Lt. Governor Paterson set about establishing barracks, a storeroom, a sturdy gaol, and three rows of cottages. Being a bit of a botanist himself and a friend of Joseph Banks, he also established an elaborate Government Garden. It was said to be at the foot of a waterfall, with a summerhouse, fruit trees and pathways, but alas, no trace remains.

Model of a soldier lurks in the bushes
 Access remained difficult throughout the infant settlement's short life. In wet weather, the low lying lands became a swamp and the settlement was frequently on the verge of starvation. This lead to some collusion between convicts and soldiers in stealing from the stores. When caught, soldiers were dismissed and convicts were executed. While Lt. Governor Collins was called to Sydney on business for nine months, his little settlement completely deteriorated. There was an attempt at piracy. Convicts escaped and became bushrangers, while the few remaining settlers lived by hunting kangaroo. When another herd of cattle almost perished on the way, Collins took the few survivors to the head of the Tamar (where Launceston now stands) where conditions were more favourable and thus the Northern capital was relocated there in 1806.

A few stragglers such the convict gardener who had looked after the Government Garden remained behind, but for the most part Yorktown was forgotten by history.

Have never come across one of these. What's a Pobble?

The fifteen minute walk takes you past the location of some of the buildings and a mock up of a soldier's cottage. It also identifies many of the plants and animals and gives faces to the names we have encountered in our history books.
In honour of his botanical efforts, Paterson has had a pretty flower named after him, the Patersonia occidentalis which happened to be in bloom while I was there.

His garden may be gone, but Paterson's real memorial -apart from the City of Launceston, is probably Patersonia occidentalis which was named after him
     

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